If you have a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with a battery from LG that's giving you fits, you may be out of luck.
Microsoft had previously said it would charge $200 to replace a bad battery, but there's a big stink on the Microsoft Answers forum claiming that Microsoft won't honor that promise -- and the only option for owners of SP3s with defective batteries involves spending $450 for a refurbished device with a 60-day warranty.
This is not helping dispel the bad blood about the Surface Pro 3.
You've probably heard about the Surface Pro 3 Simplo battery problem, dubbed "batterygate." It took Microsoft more than five months to fix a bug in its battery driver to bring those batteries back to life. You may have also read a more recent finding that the other major Surface Pro 3 battery -- this one from LG -- is failing long before its time. Complaints about the LG battery have been piling up for nearly a month, and Microsoft has yet to acknowledge -- let alone fix -- the problem. The main battery thread on the Microsoft Answers forum is now 134 pages long.
Here's a report from MAB092, dated Oct. 12:
Having same issues with my SP3, 18 months old out; not covered by warranty now. Battery is at 0%, sometimes not detected sometimes says plugged in but not charging. Downloaded the firmware 2x, refreshed and reinstalled surface pro 3 tools.
Spoke with 2 techs, online and in store, both offered a replacement of 550C$+tax. for a USED UNIT AND 90 DAY WARRANTY. The techs pretended they didn't even know of this issues and replied with "thank you, I will forward this to management". Even when if I'm able to decide what battery my used device will have, it will likely be some poor user that had the same issue that I will have after a few months with a replacement unit; thanks to internet searches and this forum.
A replacement and this firmware is no help to this default of Microsoft. Asked to downgrade my device to a S3 and/or laptop; nope it's not possible. Thanks for robbing me Microsoft. I'll make sure to forward all of this throughout the internet. Buying a Mac now, as much as I'm not a fan. Their customer support and quality is insured that my battery replacement will be replaced for $100.
The complaints hearken back to a promise made by Surface honcho Panos Panay two years ago in a Reddit "Ask me anything" session:
IF the battery fails during the warranty period, we'll replace the battery. IF the battery fails after the warranty period, you'll call Microsoft support and arrange for the battery to be replaced. The cost will be $200 USD.
Now it seems Microsoft is unwilling to walk the talk.
I've seen an excerpt from an email recently sent by a Microsoft tech support engineer to a complaining Surface Pro 3 customer, who's asked to remain anonymous. The pertinent part says:
We [Microsoft tech support] are aware of the [Reddit] post and have raised it to PR [public relations] in the past. While the post was not correct at the time it was published, in the last 2 years our OW [out of warranty] prices have fluctuated so even if the post had been correct then, it would not be correct now. The best way a customer can see what the current price is for OW service is to visit https://www.microsoft.com/surface/support/service-order.
The price of a battery replacement depends on a number of factors, most significantly location, but it's considerably more than $200. Many folks don't want to buy a $450 refurb with a 60-day warranty for fear of getting yet another bum battery. Many have used their SP3s very little, have a tablet that'll only work if it's plugged in, and believe the battery (or its driver) is defective.
Microsoft isn't saying a word.
By comparison, replacing the battery on a 2011 MacBook Pro costs $129 -- and as best I can tell, Apple doesn't change prices midstream.
Is it true, as some have posited, that a Surface Pro is only good for maybe two years, then it's basically obsolete? Certainly, Microsoft's failure to live up to its servicing commitment should give one pause.
Microsoft says it's selling a billion bucks' worth of Surfaces each quarter. I wonder how many of them have bad batteries?
UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson advises:
We are aware of a battery issue that is affecting a limited number of Surface Pro 3 users. We can confirm that the issue affecting these customers was not caused by the software updates issued on August 29th. Our team is actively looking in to the issue to determine the cause and identify a fix. We will post an update as soon as we have more information to share. We also recognize the possibility that some customers might have heard conflicting information about in- and out-of-warranty repairs and replacements. For more information about Surface warranty, Surface owners can visit https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/warranty-service-and-recovery/microsoft-surface-warranty-faq.
Note: This post has been amended from its original version.